There aren’t many more iconic American classics than the Shelby Cobra 427, even if it was assembled in the United Kingdom. Ford wanted to rival what Chevrolet was doing with the Corvette, so it decided to stick a powerful engine inside something lightweight.
The result was the Shelby Cobra 427, designed by AC Cars at the request of American racing driver Carroll Shelby. The racer hoped that AC Cars could create one of its classic two-seater sports cars capable of accommodating a V8 engine.
Shelby originally asked Chevrolet to provide the engine for his brainchild but the American automotive giant didn’t want to create competition for itself. Ford, on the other hand, didn’t want to lose ground to Chevrolet and offered its new 3.6-liter V8. The rest, as they say, is history, and the Shelby Cobra 427 first entered production in 1962.
This awesome ride is one of the most loved sports cars and roadsters ever made, but how does the Shelby Cobra 427 stack up to its competition?
The Shelby Cobra 427’s Style And Agility Puts It Ahead Of Its Rivals
One of the first things that any gearhead will notice about the Shelby Cobra 427 is its wonderful design. It just looks and feels like a car you want to jump in and do a thousand laps around a circuit with.
If you asked a kid to draw a sports car, the Shelby Cobra 427 (or rather an approximation) is likely the base design they would come up with. The Cobra is so iconic that even after more than fifty years on our roads, it is still the benchmark many sports cars aspire to meet.
The main competitors to the Shelby Cobra 427 are its generational rivals, the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray 427 and the Ferrari 250 GTO. Both rivals, we’re sure you would agree, also made their mark on the automotive landscape for their style.
The Ferrari 250 GTO is one of the most-loved cars ever produced, and we can’t make any claims that the Cobra 427 looks better. However, perhaps this is a tie as they are both awe-inspiring. There is no denying the Chevrolet is a classic, too, but the Cobra just stands out by comparison.
But that’s just the looks; there’s plenty more to shout about where the Shelby is concerned. When the Cobra was first released its best driving attribute was its agility. It was capable of going from zero to 100 mph and back to a standstill in just 14.5 seconds, which was something that was rarely seen in a road-legal automobile at the time.
Thanks to its light chassis, the Cobra was capable of outmaneuvering its rivals while also boasting an impressive acceleration. Its rivals were larger and heavier, which meant they weren’t quite as much fun to drive.
Not that anyone would complain about getting behind the wheel of a Ferrari 250 GTO or second-generation Chevrolet Corvette, aka the Stingray. The fastest C2 Corvette Sting Ray had a 0-60 mph time of 4.7 seconds, according to Corvette. Ferrari’s 250 GTO had a 0-60 mph time of 5.4 seconds, while the Cobra did the same speed in just 3.6 seconds.
A Closer Look At The Shelby Cobra 427’s Rivals
There aren’t many cars on the road that can truly hold a candle to the iconic Shelby Cobra 427. Despite that, we think the Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray 427 and Ferrari 250 GTO provided a close rivalry with the Cobra during their heyday. Decades later, and they are really the only cars that hold a candle to the Shelby Cobra 427.
The Ferrari 250 GTO needs little introduction, and it holds the honor of being the most expensive vintage car in history after selling at auction for $48.4 million. Thanks to a 3.0-liter V12 engine, few cars could rival the Ferrari for sheer power during its generation.
The Ferrari produced 300 hp and won multiple titles at racing events around the world to cement its legacy as one of the all-time greats. While the Ferrari had style, the Corvette had innovation.
It was the first American car to have independent rear suspension, which was a watershed moment in the performance market. The outstanding moment in the Corvette Sting Ray’s history was in 1967 when a Big Block L88 427 engine was introduced. This practically turned the Chevrolet into a road-legal race car.
The Shelby Cobra 427′ Specs
The Shelby Cobra 427’s lightweight was a major factor in its agility. For the time, a weight of 2,282 lbs was super light, especially with a huge engine under the hood.
The naturally aspirated engine produced 416 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. Those fortunate enough to get behind the wheel of the Shelby Cobra 427 enjoyed a top speed of 164 mph.
The Cobra 427 Through The Years
Despite the fondness people have for the Shelby Cobra, it wasn’t a financial success for Ford. After its introduction in 1962, Ford and Carroll Shelby lost money on the project, and in 1967, they stopped importing them to the United States.
Today, anyone looking to get their hands on a pristine Shelby Cobra 427 is looking at spending a couple of million dollars. In fact, a 2021 auction of a Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake sold for a colossal $5.5 million.
There is only a handful of surviving Shelby Cobra 427s out there, which makes the price so high. Replicas of the Cobra are becoming big business because it’s next to impossible to get your hands on an original.
While the Cobra didn’t last, the Chevrolet Corvette continued. Perhaps it should be seen as the ultimate victor in the battle for supremacy that first started in the 1960s. Production of Shelby Cobras and Ferrari GTOs stopped during the ’60s, but the Corvette managed to evolve, and it’s now in its eighth generation.